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Webinar on Opening of Schools – Precautions to be Taken

The government’s recent declaration of having schools across Telangana open up for physical classes stirred up discomfort, doubts and presumptions in the general public. Rainbow Children’s Hospital conducted a webinar ‘Opening of Schools – Precautions to be Taken’ on Sunday, the 29th of August, 2021 at 11am with a panel of esteemed and experienced doctors to address the concerns, give guidelines and precautions to the audience to tackle the big change efficiently. The webinar was led by Dr. Rohit Bhojraj and the panel of doctors consisted of Dr. Faisal B. Nahdi, Lead Consultant – Pediatrician, at Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Banjara Hills; Dr. Lakshmi Vedaprakash, Consultant – Neonatologist & Pediatrician at Rainbow Children’s Hospital in the Kondapur branch along with Dr. Satyanarayana Kavali, Consultant – Pediatrician in the LB Nagar branch of Rainbow Children’s Hospital. There was an audience of approximately 4.3K concerned parents, teachers, educators and general public, spread across YouTube and Facebook live platforms. When the concerns regarding the schools reopening right when the 3rd wave is being speculated, and the target crowd of the disease is children were raised, Dr. Faisal simply said that ‘Fear never builds up the future, it is hope that does.’ He stressed that children look up to their parents the most as their super heroes, so it is in the family’s hand to create a hopeful environment and educate and train their children to deal with the pandemic. ‘Family have to be positive, they can’t be demotivated. Practice hope at home, the family needs to be prepared’, he said. Coming to the prospect of vaccinations – Dr. Lakshmi informed that COVID vaccines for children have been tested and the results are awaited. “The vaccinations need to take place in a phased manner, beginning with children between the ages of 12-18, and then 6-12 years subsequently.” She said. Another concern raised was in terms of the current time period – ‘this is the time when seasonal diseases spread.’ Dr. Satya said. So taking vaccines like flu shots can rule out the possibility of other fevers, coughs, and colds from being symptoms of COVID and reduce paranoia and confusion. Dr. Faisal insisted that all parents must make sure that their child’s vaccinations are up to date. The children are the hypothesized to being the worst hit in the 3rd wave because studies show that 67% of the Indian population have anti bodies either through the disease or the vaccine, leaving children the most vulnerable, especially in the circumstance of another variant arising. However, they assured from past experiences with children with COVID that were treated by them that the severity of symptoms and the rate of fatality was rather minimal in comparison to the middle aged and elder patients of COVID. Nonetheless, no one can tell the future, so being safe and taking precautions is extremely important. Some guided precautions from these expert doctors as well as WHO and CDC that need to be taken by the schools and parents are: Elders and parents at home should get vaccinated to reduce the risk of getting infected. Teach them how to wear a mask – cloth mask preferably, and in case of skin allergies or skin conditions, use face shields but a face covering is a must. Social distancing in school needs to be practiced. Classrooms need to be well ventilated. Train children in hand hygiene. Teach them the 20 second hand washing rule, cleaning in between the fingers and the finger tips is extremely important. Teach them how to clean, disinfect and sanitize frequently. Schools must clean all the washrooms neatly and frequently. A proper balanced diet is necessary. Schematic seating arrangement. Multiple levels of screening at school. If a child is even lightly sick, the school needs to be informed at the earliest. The school needs to be flexible in case online classes need to resume suddenly. Carry a separate bag, water bottle and a kit. Get vaccinated on priority basis once they are available. Added to this, they believe that online classes cannot compare to offline classes as children miss out on life skills and lose out on necessary exposure and also expressed the mental and physical health concerns that had been observed in their pediatric patients. “There are physical and mental complains like children began eating more than usual resulting in a 95% weight gain - obesity. Mentally, adolescents are getting addicted to different kinds of screen times. Kids stopped talking - interaction has come down. Speech delay and non-progression of speech in kids below the age of 5 are some of the problems. This pandemic might lead to a pandemic of lifestyle diseases in the future.” Dr. Lakshmi said. Ultimately, it is the parents’ decision to send their child to school or not. If they are sceptical, it is alright to wait for a few months so that their confident builds up, and take time to mentally prepare the children, they told the parents. Dr. Satya also opined that children who are just going back to school should not be burdened with excessive work and should be given time to adjust. And no matter what the decision may be, the doctors confidently assured that they are there to help. “We are with you, Rainbow is with you, no matter what decision is, we are here to help!”

Dr. Faisal B Nahdi


Rainbow Children's Hospital, Banjara Hills